|Team||2017 Salute to Service Team Nominees|
FROSTEE RUCKER (Defensive End)
Rucker uses his powerful voice in the Phoenix community to champion the members of the military and encourage other Cardinals fans to do the same. He sees his position as an ambassador between the Phoenix community and the military and uses his high-profile role to remind Cardinals fans that part of supporting the BirdGang, means also supporting those who serve our country.
ANDRE ROBERTS (Wide Receiver)
Roberts passion for the military stems from his childhood while growing up with parents serving in the U.S. Army. Roberts has done multiple visits to local VA hospitals, spending a day fishing with veterans at Fishing with the Falcons and selecting Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) as his organization for My Cause My Cleats. He also spends time participating in Proctor and Gamble's Pro Camps and hosting camps at military bases across the United States.
JOHN HARBAUGH (Head Coach)
Harbaugh has displayed an unwavering commitment to the military. By consistently honoring those who have fought valiantly defending freedom, to establishing unique displays of appreciation for those who serve today. To that end, Harbaugh schedules trips for his players to various military sites to build a better understanding of military service for his players. Harbaugh also instituted Military Appreciation Day, an annual event that has taken place for 10-consecutive years during Ravens training camp. Since its establishment, over 9,000 servicemembers have enjoyed preferred seating and opportunities to meet players and coaches.
MIKE WAUFLE (Defensive Line Coach)
Waufle served in the United States Marine Corps from 1972-1975, and carries the lessons he learned while fighting for our freedom in to the Defensive Line meeting room and at home. Within his first month as a coach in Buffalo, Waufle visited the local Veterans Hospital as part of the National Salute to Veterans Patients. He attends several fundraisers and events and is an ardent supporter of the Marine Corps Scholarship Fund, Wounded Warriors, Disabled Veterans funds, and several other organizations.
RON RIVERA (Head Coach)
Rivera is the son of an Army Warrant Officer and dedicates personal and team time to honor our military by inviting and meeting with them at training camp, Military Furlough Weekends during the season, or traveling to area military bases on his own time to quietly meet with our Warriors and their families. Rivera also helped raised more than $57,000 to support Veterans transitioning from military to civilian life. He also personally donates funds to support USO of NC's critical mission and helps to solicit participants in area events, such as the "Fore the Troops" golf event.
JASON MCKIE (Former Fullback)
As an active player, Jason was dedicated to giving back to men and women in the armed forces, and he continues that work as a retired player. Jason's father served for 21 years in the Air Force, and was in the Pentagon at the time of the September 11 attacks. In 2008, Jason launched the Jason McKie Foundation (JMF) of the Institute for Science and Health which focuses on programs in the areas of education and wellness, with an emphasis on making an impact in the lives of families of soldiers. Through the Foundation, Jason hosts various activities with military families to give back to those who give so much to our country. Throughout this past year, the JMF was able to provide emergency assistance to Army Ranger JOSEPH NAYLOR and his family. Through their program, "Operation Care Package," they sent care packages overseas to soldiers serving in the Army deployed in Kuwait and Afghanistan. Stateside, the Foundation hosted a Thanksgiving dinner for active and retired military. Additionally, JMF sponsors field trips to the Chicago Bears Training Camp for military kids as part of the Kids Rank organization.
TYLER EIFERT (Tight End)
Cincinnati Bengals Tight End, Tyler Eifert is a proud supporter of our military community. His cousin is a pilot in the United States Air Force flying F-15's in active war zones. Eifert has teamed up with the K9s For Warriors which is an organization that provides service dogs to Veterans suffering from Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Eifert wrote, "Something that many people in our country overlook are the negative affects war has on the individuals putting their lives on the line for our freedom. Post-traumatic stress disorder is a serious issue and something that sadly results in suicide from many military veterans when not treated correctly. In supporting this charity, I want to raise awareness for the real issues affecting military veterans who suffer from PTSD while also raising money to train more dogs to improve the lives of military veterans."
JOE THOMAS (Offensive Tackle)
Thomas has remained committed and driven to giving back to military representatives, their families and military organizations since his rookie year, 11 years ago. One of his most inspiring outreach efforts presented itself in 2010 when Thomas traveled over 14,000 miles roundtrip to visit troops stationed overseas in the Middle East through the NFL/USO Tour, and to this day, he is still in contact with some of the troops. This year, Thomas will help continue to raise awareness for the USO of Northern Ohio as he will feature the charity on his cleats through the NFL's My Cause, My Cleats initiative. Additionally, Thomas continues his ongoing support to the USO of Northern Ohio through his signature game day ticket program – Thomas' Troops – offering 20 military members and their families to attend a Browns home game for the entire regular season.
THE DALLAS COWBOYS CHEERLEADERS (Cheerleaders)
For more than 38 years, the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders (DCC) have proudly served as representatives of the Dallas Cowboys, entertaining U.S. military around the world and making more international tours with the USO than any other group in history. The group has completed more than 81 USO tours to date. Since 1979, the group has joined the USO and Department of Defense in visiting locations as diverse as Afghanistan, Belgium, Bosnia, Cuba, Germany, Iceland, Iraq, the Persian Gulf, South Korea, and the United Kingdom along with countless bases and installations stateside. In 2013, the group expanded their tour platform beyond a choreographed show and began incorporating the NFL Play 60 campaign into their USO visits. By hosting youth cheer camps, exercise classes and even Junior Training Camps on base for military families, they have been able to provide entertainment for everyone while at the same time spread the NFL's health and wellness message globally.
THE DENVER BRONCOS CHEERLEADERS (Cheerleaders)
Members of Denver Broncos Cheerleaders (DBC) have dedicated thousands of hours of service—680 hours in 2016—among dozens of Colorado nonprofit organizations and causes, with a heightened focus on support and appreciation for the military. In total, Broncos Cheerleaders have visited 25 countries throughout 100-plus base visits and military tours. The group launched its signature program, Cheer for the Troops, an annual campaign that encourages Broncos Country to join the cheerleaders in collecting items for servicemen and women all over the world to be distributed during the holidays. Cheer for the Troops is celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2017. Since the campaign's inception in 2007, more than 37,000 pounds of items have been donated, totaling more than 4,000 individual boxes delivered to soldiers.
GOLDEN TATE (Wide Receiver)
Tate and his wife, Elise, founded The Golden Future Foundation (GFF) in 2014 to serve as a platform for their fervent desire to give back to others in need, and make a positive impact on their community. They believe that the true American heroes in our country are often overlooked, and they deserve our utmost respect, appreciation, and resources to get acclimated back into society after serving our country. Through the foundation, Golden and Elise have dedicated their resources, energy and time, to help provide a Golden Future for our true American Heroes. Over the past three years, Tate and Elise have hosted their annual Stars and Strikes Bowling event that benefits the Michigan Veterans Agency, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America and Pets for Vets. The Tate's have also participated in a shopping experience for children whose military parents would not be home for the holidays.
|Green Bay Packers|
MIKE DANIELS (Defensive Tackle)
This past year, Daniels chose to honor his sister and all military veterans when he had custom cleats made for him to wear during the Salute to Service games in November. The cleats were designed with his sister's name and the United States Air Force logo on top of digital camouflage. During the production meetings for those games, Daniels made sure the commentators understood why he was wearing the cleats and why it was important for them to bring attention to honoring our veterans and military members. Mike never takes the rights and freedoms our military has provided our country for granted.
WOODY CAMPBELL (Texans Ambassador)
Campbell was one of only seven professional athletes to serve on active-duty in the Vietnam War. Campbell retired from the NFL in 1972 and went on to a 30-year career in sales and technology before retiring in 2008. He became a Texans Ambassador after retiring, a group of former Texans and NFL players that represent the team at Texans games and in the community. He enjoys the opportunity it gives him to be involved with the team and give back to others. Each year, Campbell attends the annual Houston Texans Military BBQ to meet the 200 service members and veterans in attendance both to show his appreciation for their service and to be there as someone who understands what they've been through.
CHUCK PAGANO (Head Coach)
Indianapolis Colts Head Coach Chuck Pagano has formed a notable commitment to the military since his arrival in 2012. Pagano spent consecutive off seasons (2015 and 2016) making two USO Tour trips. During his first trip in February of 2015, Pagano, ANDREW LUCK and DWAYNE ALLEN joined Admiral JAMES WINNEFELD, JR. on his third and final USO Tour as Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The crew traveled to numerous military locations on an eight-day, seven-country trip and partook in high-energy shows and memorable base visits for members of our armed forces. Prior to the start of the trip, the group visited Arlington National Cemetery and then spent time with wounded soldiers at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. Pagano was also honored to have Admiral Winnefeld to speak to the Colts in a previous year prior to the start of the regular season. In 2016, Pagano joined four Colts players on the first USO/NFL team-themed tour in Japan. To honor members of the military, Pagano has created a gameday tradition in which servicemen and women have an opportunity to run out of the tunnel with the team.
MALIK JACKSON (Defensive Tackle)
Jackson started his own Foundation, Malik's Gifts, which support military, at risk youth families and pet adoption. Through Malik's Gifts, he has sponsored Gold Star Wives Day. These special women are the widows of service members who have died while serving their country. This past Memorial Day, Jackson provided military families whose loved ones died in the line of fire, a fun afternoon of horseback riding, wagon tours, fishing and many other activities at the Diamond Ranch. The gathering featured a special "time of remembrance" that honors those no longer with us due to their service to our country. This was all possible for 200 military children and families from Malik's $10,000 donation. This year, Malik has committed to make a $5,000 donation to 5 Star Veterans Center that offers safe and secure housing to displaced veterans to help alleviate veteran homelessness and also offers resources to help them re-integrate into society.
|Kansas City Chiefs|
DERRICK JOHNSON (Linebacker)
Johnson gives back through his Defend the Dream Foundation. His inspirations to support those serving our country comes from his father, Wayne. In recognition of his father's efforts, Johnson spends his time working with many military-based initiatives. Johnson has visited Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas, on multiple occasions. During these trips, Johnson has not only conversed with soldiers and their families to help boost morale but on two occasions brought along teammates to host a Chiefs Play 60 clinic for the base's youth. Additionally, Johnson helped facilitate fundraising initiatives tied to the organization's annual Chiefs Red Friday efforts to benefit Ft. Riley's Wounded Warriors Transition Battalion (WTB). Johnson has also rallied together his fellow linebackers for a special visit to the local VA Medical Center, where they spend time with veterans, sign autographs, take photos, and hand out Chiefs gear as holiday gifts.
|Los Angeles Chargers|
DONNIE EDWARDS (Former Linebacker)
The Los Angeles Chargers are proud to nominate retired linebacker and Southern California-native Donnie Edwards for the 2017 Salute to Service Award. While he was heavily involved with bettering the community and actively supporting the military during his playing days, Edwards has taken full advantage of his connections off the field to support the world around him, especially our military veterans, in his post-football life. It was Edwards' long-standing family ties to the military which moved him to lend his support to our troops overseas, including participating in seven tours with the USO proudly working to help boost morale for members of our military. But now Edwards' passion has taken a very special direction as he has turned his attention and time to assisting The Greatest Generation Foundation. Edwards finds that being able to help those who answered the call of duty to serve our country is a reward unlike any other and it's truly become a passion.
|Los Angeles Rams|
DAVID VOBORA (Former Linebacker)
Vobora opened the Performance Vault, a for-profit gym for elite athletes such as NFL players, NFL Combine hopefuls and Olympians. In January 2014, Vobora befriended U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Travis Mills, one of five surviving quadruple amputees from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Vobora created a workout regimen for Mills that focused on weight transfer, core strength and stability as the two began to meet regularly. Eventually, Vobora was training nearly a dozen adaptive athletes. By September 2014, he had founded the Adaptive Training Foundation, a nonprofit that works with adaptive athletes such as amputees, paraplegics, quadriplegics and physically impaired. Vobora trains a group for nine weeks at no cost, and each athlete is assigned a volunteer trainer who helps design exercises specific to that athlete's body.
MIKE WAHLE (Manager, Skills Development)
With the armed forces very important to Wahle, he has visited numerous military bases and has tried to stay as active as he could throughout the military community during his days as an NFL player. It was important for him to speak to and connect with military families and bases in Wisconsin during his seven years as an offensive lineman for the Green Bay Packers. Wahle has recently put his words to action as he and his family have opened up their home to a Veteran that completed his service a few years ago.
MIKE PRIEFER (Special Teams Coordinator)
Serving as a pilot after graduating from the Naval Academy in 1989, Priefer doesn't intend to stop his dedication and support of the military. In addition to supporting families with tickets and field passes each year in games around the country, he is looking for ways to extend his reach to help veterans in need. He is particularly passionate about the veteran transition when returning home and is beginning to pursue how he can help in the epidemic of suicide amongst recent veterans. He loves inviting military members out to games and practices and he is consistently humbled by the reactions that come from those guests. Most recently, Priefer played an integral role in SETH SWANSON's re-enlistment ceremony for the United States Navy.
|New England Patriots|
JOE CARDONA (Long Snapper)
Cardona served as a junior commissioned officer in the United States Navy. He proudly wears his Naval uniform as the team boards the plane for away games and remains humble about his service to our country. Following a preseason joint practice with the Jacksonville Jaguars, Cardona hosted a special re-enlistment ceremony for two brave individuals. After practice, he changed into uniform, led the ceremony and recruited both teams to be a part of it. Joe has facilitated more than a dozen re-enlistment and retirement ceremonies at Gillette Stadium for his fellow military members. He also led a free football clinic for military families at Hanscom Air Force Base and Naval Station Newport this past April. Last fall, Joint Base Cape Cod experienced a fire that burned several of their storage buildings. Inside of one of those buildings were toys for military families to receive during the holidays. Joe quickly decided to visit the base and worked with the Patriots Foundation to collect toys that would help to replace the ones that were lost.
|New Orleans Saints|
A.J. KLEIN (Linebacker)
A.J. Klein comes from a military family – his grandfather served in the Air Force, two of his uncles were pilots and his great-grandfather served in World War II. His first opportunity to support military was when he was training for the NFL Draft in Pensacola, FL and at the same workout facility, several military veterans and active military were rehabbing from injuries. He enjoyed the opportunity to spend time and support these military men and women. During his tenure in Carolina from 2013-16, he was active in team events that supported the military and is looking forward to continuing to do the same in New Orleans.
|New York Giants|
MIKE SULLIVAN (Offensive Coordinator)
Sullivan is a former West Point Cadet and US Army Ranger. His leadership and dedication to service and the organization are profound. His positive presence with the team has changed players, coaches and front office.
|New York Jets|
MIKE AND BETTY MACCAGNAN (General Manager & Wife)
The Maccagnans never take credit for the work they do, but instead highlight the family members who inspire their acts of kindness, Mike's older brother, VICTOR MACCAGNAN, who served in the military for 28 years, and his father who also served. Using his platform as General Manager, the Maccagnans have supported other military families during the holiday season for the past two years, creating an annual signature military appreciation event for families who have a spouse deployed during Christmas. The families are invited to the Jets training center for the day to watch practice and participate in holiday activities- gingerbread houses, cooking decorating, Jets Fest, massages, make-overs, pictures with Santa, and a Christmas dinner. Mike enjoys giving a facility tour to the guests, while Betty takes each spouse to "Santa's workshop," a defensive classroom she decorates, which is filled with personalized dream Christmas presents for each child. In addition to the annual event, the Maccagnans also host soldiers from Fort Drum at each game during the season.
JON CONDO (Long Snapper)
Condo's passion for supporting the military stems from family ties as both of his grandfathers served in World War II and his brother-in-law, a retired Lieutenant Colonel, served in the Army. During his tenure with the team, Condo continually has shown support for the community and the Raiders' military partners. In 2015, the Raiders launched the Raiders Foundation with a mission to support our military and families of fallen heroes. In recognition of Memorial Day and on behalf of the Foundation's mission, Condo and his teammates welcomed 50 people from TAPs (Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors) to the Raiders Alameda Facility for a tour and a meet and greet. Condo continued to show support for the military during the offseason. He attended the NFL's Salute to Service Military Appreciation breakfast for service members and their families in San Francisco during Super Bowl 50 Week activities. Condo took to the stage to thank the military members and their families for their sacrifices to our country. Jon also supported the gala for the Sentinels of Freedom, a nonprofit organization that assists severely wounded and injured post 9/11 veterans in their efforts to become productive and self-sufficient members of their communities as they transition back into civilian life.
DENISE KOZUL (Marketing and Executive Assistant)
Kozul is someone who carries that sense of respect and honor for the military deep within her heart. Over the past 20 years as an Eagles employee, Denise has dedicated countless hours to serving the military and their families. In partnership with the USO, Kozul invites more than 500 military members, including a group of veterans from the Brigantine Elks, to enjoy a reception and watch practice. Additionally, in 2015 Denise arranged for the Wounded Warrior Project to attend training camp. The participants were able to enjoy lunch and stretch with the team on the field after practice. Kozul continues to spearhead military appreciation efforts throughout the season during practices and games, making sure to take advantage of every opportunity to include military personnel into the Eagles game day entertainment. She organizes fly overs and parachute jumpers for practices and games and handles all military aspects for the Eagles Salute to Service game. Some other events Denise has helped organize include: Eagles players playing Madden with soldiers stationed overseas and Eagles players making meals for disabled veterans.
ARTHUR MOATS (Linebacker)
It should come as no surprise that one of Arthur Moats' mentors is his father, Arthur Moats Jr., a former pastor and United States Marine. He is the man who taught him about values, character, discipline, giving back and much more. Moats joined some of his teammates at a visit to the VA Hospital in Pittsburgh, spending time with them, and truly listening to their stories, what they have been through, and giving them a true sense of how much their service is appreciated. He was among a group of Steelers' players who visited injured Navy SEAL, BRANDON MEYERS at La Jolla VA Hospital. The players came bearing gifts, but the best part of the visit for Meyers was just spending time talking to them about football. Moats was the first to raise his hand to help when the Steelers surprised Staff Sgt. MICHELLE SATTERFIELD of the United States Army with a new home through the Tunnel to Towers Foundation. Moats went to the dedication celebration for the home, toured it with her, and spoke from the heart with his gratitude for her service to the country.
|San Francisco 49ers|
JOHN LYNCH (General Manager)
Since 1998, Lynch has frequented various Air Force bases and military hospitals to personally thank those serving in the military, including MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, FL, Walter Reed Hospital in Bethesda, MD, and various visits to Fort Carson and Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado. In 2002, the John Lynch Foundation hosted the 'Salute the Stars & Stripes' fundraiser honoring then United States Army Commander of U.S. Central Command TOMMY FRANKS. During his last season playing in the NFL (2007), Lynch hosted troops from Buckley Air Force Base (Aurora, CO) during the Denver Broncos training camp at Dove Valley. He visited with and shared a meal with military personnel who had either recently returned from serving in Iraq or were preparing for overseas deployment. Lynch's military appreciation continues to this day. Every year since 2011, he has hosted military families at the annual Lynch Christmas Party in Colorado and during his inaugural training camp as 49ers general manager, Lynch hosted service men and women during the team's Military Appreciation Day.
PAUL ALLEN (Owner)
Last winter, Allen's production company, in partnership with NBC Learn, launched "Chronicles of Courage: Stories of Wartime and Innovation." The educational video series takes viewers on a journey through World War II history, as told firsthand by pilots and other aviation veterans from the U.S., U.K., Soviet Union, Germany, and Japan. Chronicles of Courage is one of the largest oral history video archives on war and aviation ever created. Spanning three continents, eight countries and seven wars - beginning with World War II - this revolutionary video archive captures the powerful first-person perspectives of over 300 men and women from opposing sides of conflicts. Allen has also assembled a multi-disciplined team of researchers, engineers, and explorers to locate historically significant wreckage and explore underwater ecosystems. On August 19, 2017, this team discovered the wreckage of the USS Indianapolis. The Indianapolis was found 5,500 meters below the surface, resting on the floor of the North Pacific Ocean.
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers|
CLINTON McDONALD (Defensive Tackle)
McDonald, a proud USAA member, was selected as a 2017 NFL spokesperson in the "USAA Member Voices" commercial campaign, as he believes the insurance company shares the same qualities he stands for: loyalty, honor, and respect. Being raised in a military household, the same core principles are instilled in his family. For the past two years, McDonald has served as an honorary guest speaker at the Buccaneers General H Norman Schwarzkopf Military Family of the Year Awards at One Buccaneer Place. The event honors the families of active duty military members from each branch of service and recognizes their integrity, courage, commitment, and service before self. On Veterans' Day in 2016, McDonald helped organize a clothing donation drive and purchased meals for homeless veterans as part of Operation Reveille. In 2016, the City of Orlando hosted the Invictus Games – an international sporting event for active duty and veteran servicemen and servicewomen who have been injured or wounded. Prior to the kickoff of the Games, McDonald spent time visiting with Team USA, thanking each member for their sacrifices and sharing that their resilience and dedication inspire him.
MIKE MULARKEY (Head Coach)
Mularkey often invites military personnel to speak to the team during training camp or before a game. MARCUS LUTTRELL, the U.S. Navy SEAL known for being portrayed as "The Lone Survivor," was among the training camp speakers. On another night, Major General ANDREW P. POPPAS, Commanding General of the 101st Airborne Division at nearby Fort Campbell, spoke to the team. JOHN W. ROSA, a retired United States Air Force Lieutenant General, addressed the players as well. During the preseason, Mularkey donated 500 tickets to the 101st Airborne Division. Mularkey is also a believer in first-hand exposure. Last season, the Titans held a walkthrough at the Marines training facility in San Diego while on the road to play the Chargers. In April, under Mularkey's direction, the Titans welcomed members of the 1st Brigade Combat Team "Bastogne" 101st Airborne Division to Saint Thomas Sports Park, where strength and conditioning Coach STEVE WATTERSON put company commanders through a strenuous workout.
VERNON DAVIS (Tight End)
Davis sought out service members during events signing countless autographs during a walkthrough at Andrews Air Force Base and during military-exclusive events. During USAA's Salute to Service month last November, Davis got a "taste" of military life when he ate a MRE, better known as a Meal, Ready to Eat. Davis helps support Redskins Charitable Foundation events as well. He came full circle during the Foundation's annual "4th and Life Football Forum" in November 2016 as a speaker at the event, 14 years after first participating as a student-athlete at Dunbar High School. Davis also was active in the promotion of the Redskins FITT, a program dedicated to youth health and wellness. During the pilot year of Redskins FITT, more than 2,400 District of Columbia Public School seventh graders participated.